SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. — Cal Poly’s Graduation Success Rate among its 550 student-athletes remained at 80 percent for the second straight year, according to the NCAA Graduation Rates Report released by the NCAA this week.
That figure represents an 11 percent increase over Cal Poly’s GSR over the past seven years.
In addition, Cal Poly’s Federal Graduation Rate of 70 percent for the football program is second among the 13 football-playing schools in the Big Sky Conference.
The current Graduation Rates Report compiles data about students and student-athletes entering as freshmen in 2010, the most recent graduating class for which the required six years of information is available.
Six of Cal Poly’s athletic teams posted a GSR of over 90 percent. They include men’s golf, men’s tennis, men’s soccer, women’s basketball, women’s soccer and women’s swimming and diving.
In addition, five teams posted improvements in both the GSR and FGR over last year. They include men’s and women’s cross country/track and field, women’s basketball, women’s golf and women’s swimming and diving.
Men’s soccer recorded an improvement in its GSR while men’s golf, men’s basketball, women’s soccer and softball all posted improvement in their FGR rates over a year ago.
Men’s basketball, men’s golf, men’s tennis and women’s soccer maintained their GSR scores of a year ago, as did men’s tennis with its FGR rate.
Men’s golf, women’s basketball and women’s soccer all achieved 100 percent graduation success rates. Men’s tennis is the lone Mustang team with an FGR score of 100 percent.
"These numbers reflect what we have always known about our student-athletes, that they embody our motto of ‘Athletic and Academic Excellence’,” said Cal Poly director of athletics Don Oberhelman. "For these great numbers, there is plenty of credit to go around.
"Clearly, our coaching staff places a high value on the education our student-athletes receive at Cal Poly," Oberhelman added. "Carly Head, Louise Torgerson, Kyle Ross and the entire Mustang Success Center unit work tirelessly with our student-athletes to help them achieve their ultimate goal of receiving a degree from this outstanding university.”
Division I student-athletes in nearly all sports and demographics improved their graduation rates, most notably a 3 percentage point increase for African-Americans in all sports, which contributed to a record-high 87 percent Graduation Success Rate nationwide.
More than three-quarters of African-American college athletes — 77 percent — earned their degrees, up from 74 percent last year. The rate has risen 21 percentage points since 2002.
African-American men’s basketball players, who reached 77 percent GSR last year, are up another point to 78 percent in 2017. The GSR for African-American women’s basketball players increased 6 percentage points to 90 percent. Since 2002, the rate for African-American men’s basketball players has increased 32 points. The rate for African-American women’s basketball players is up 20 points in that timeframe.
Football student-athletes also show marked improvement. African-American Football Bowl Subdivision participants increased 3 percentage points to 73 percent, and that rate is up 20 points since 2002.
“Student-athletes are reaching their academic goals and earning degrees at record rates,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said. “The dramatic improvement in the graduation rate for African-American student-athletes in all sports is a significant achievement, and our student-athletes and member schools should be proud of the work they are doing. The goal of all the NCAA’s academic policies and programs is to prepare students for life after college, and graduation is integral to this success.”
A total of 22,632 more college athletes graduated over the past 15 years than would have had the GSR remained at 74 percent, which was the rate for the class that entered in 1995, the year the measure was introduced. The increase accounts for 3,136 more graduates in 2017 alone.
“As colleges and universities, we have a responsibility to prepare our students to excel both on and off the field of play,” said John J. DeGioia, president of Georgetown University and chair of the Division I Committee on Academics. “This year's Graduation Success Rate is exceptional--the highest in history. Tracking this rate each year is critically important, helping us to measure our effectiveness in this responsibility and determine the most appropriate policies to ensure that all of our students have the support they need to be able to graduate.”
The federal graduation rate counts any student who leaves a school as an academic failure, no matter whether he or she enrolls at another school. Also, the federal rate does not recognize students who enter school as transfer students.
The graduation success rate formula removes from the rate student-athletes who leave school while academically eligible and includes student-athletes who transfer to a school after initially enrolling elsewhere. This calculation makes it a more complete and accurate look at student-athlete success.